Bethel Garden brings hope to Shurugwi widows

A woman in poultry farming

LIFE of widows in parts of Shurugwi has been that of desperation, frustration and misery due to lack of income and skills to sustain livelihoods. 

Touched by the plight of these widows, there are some non-governmental organisations that came to their aid.

Twenty-two members of Hand in Hand Zimbabwe supported by Bethel Self Help Group have defined the true meaning of entrepreneurship through setting up lucrative climate-smart enterprises at their one-hectare garden in Shurugwi district.

The hardworking members set up a horticultural garden, a fish pond with 1500 fish, and an apiary. This was after Hand in Hand Zimbabwe in partnership with Hand in Hand Sweden supported the group with business coaching, technical skills training and the drilling of a solar -powered borehole.

The group members have defied the odds by shunning the old custom of relying on food handouts and have developed income -generating projects that have in turn improved their livelihoods.

One of the group members Jesca Rubaya (56) said the garden has changed their livelihoods for the better as they now earn sustainable incomes.

“Back then we relied on food handouts, but we are now financially independent and can take care of our immediate household needs. The installation of the solar-powered borehole with 2 x 5000 litres water tanks has greatly aided in boosting garden productivity and members now earn profit of as much as US$60 each month,’’  Rubaya said.

One of the widows in the group Rindai Chinyakata (60) said she was chased away from her homestead in Masvingo by her late husband's relatives and became stranded.

She said after a lot of endeavours  without success, she was invited to join the group under the Jobs creation Project. She was equipped with entrepreneurship skills.

"I am now a business woman and now able to take care of my six children and can now make an average of US$300 per month from my local sales. I have also  set up a barbershop for my son,'' said Chinyakata.

Hand in Hand Zimbabwe chief executive officer Felix Tete said the  22-member group grows crops such as leafy vegetables, king onions, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, beetroot, okra, sweet cabbage, beans, pumpkin, sweet potato and maize.

“Through the organisation’s support under its business development strategy, the group produces quality crops which they sell to vendors in Shurugwi town and local villagers. To increase their income base, the group is also into internal savings and lendings (ISALs) where each member contributes US$$2 at a 10% interest rate,’’ Tete said.

He said they have helped communities  to migrate from depending on donor aid to adopting sustainable income generating projects after it was established in 2020 under the Hand in Hand Zimbabwe Community Upliftment Project.

“The group members successfully established their enterprises after completing the Hand in Hand Zimbabwe business modular training in 2019 and were trained on horticultural technical skills, food processing, branding and packaging, tree planting, compost making and water harvesting techniques,’’ he said.

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